South Park has always been about one thing – taking children and putting them in extraordinarily un-childlike situations. Whether it’s starting a war with Canada or finding the clitoris with the help of Chef, South Park is undoubtedly inappropriate, ridiculous, and side splitingly hilarious. The Fractured But Whole is no exception.
I’ve been working hard over the last few weeks on getting through the bulk of the game. I’ve put in about 10hours so far, give or take, of traveling through the imaginary town of South Park, Colorado, finding myself, my identity, and taking down an old friend that I honestly forgot existed.
You begin the game as ‘New Kid’ again, the same character you left off on in The Stick of Truth. You’re called upon to help out your friends and run downstairs to help defend your kingdom. But not before being introduced to a couple of the game’s new mechanics. First of all, there’s the pooping minigame. In it, you’re tasked with dropping the kids off at the pool in every toilet in South Park. It’s honestly one of the more difficult parts of the game. My coordination doesn’t work nearly well enough to hit some of the more difficult 4- and 5-star toilets, but it’s fun busy work that garners the player some interesting (and useful) loot along the way.
Next, as you venture outside and get your first glimpse of the breathtaking graphics (spoiler alert: it looks like cardstock cutouts), you get involved in your first encounter. This gives you a taste of the new combat system, which has been updated quite a bit from the previous game.
Instead of being open and fluid, the combat is now extremely structured. Each player resides on a square. Attacks (long-, middle-, and short-ranged) are all visible on the battle squares. Just choose between the attacks mapped out on your controller buttons, and attack to your heart’s content. This new system feels a lot more modern than the last, allowing for a much more fluid turn-based combat system, but it feels almost too structured. As far as I am in the game now, it’s beginning to feel a little monotonous. But the addition of new characters, buddies, and now a third class all keep combat fresh.
As the story moves on, you’re allowed to create your new character. Options in the creator are a bit lacking at first, unless of course you pay money and belong to the Ubisoft Club **shivers**, but don’t worry. As you go throughout the game, new costumes are almost too plentiful. Just be sure to check every corner, in every box, and try opening every door you can.
If you can’ access them at a certain point, be sure to backtrack as you go through the game. There’s so much of FBW that’s locked off to you at the beginning. A lot of the time, there’s a way around it like the lava next to the movie theater. But more often than not, you’ll need to come back later in the game with a new buddy or fart power. Each puzzle is simple enough to not make you frustrated, but complex enough to make you think, even if it’s just a little bit.
The time farts are fun, too. I’m sure there are more to come, but right now I’m using mine to go backward in and pause time. These are useful not only outside of combat, but against enemies, too. Simply pause time during a battle to get in a few extra hits on enemies, or go backward to completely nullify their turn. It’s little details like these that make FBW a really fun game to play.
And there are certainly many little details to notice. Take Token, or ‘Tupperware’. During combat, you have different effects that may come from attacks: burning, grossed out, chilled, etc. Being grossed out causes characters to throw up and take damage. Most characters vomit on the floor next to them, but not Tupperware. Instead, he vomits inside his helmet (a tupperware he wears around his head). It’s a small thing that you might not notice, but I respect the developers for paying that much attention to detail.
But some things make me wonder if the developers really payed that much attention and care in making this game different from Stick of Truth. The map is mostly the same. If anything, it’s smaller. You get a very small area of the school to adventure around, and although many buildings are now open for you to explore, the majority only have one or two rooms available to you.
And then there’s the jokes, a lot of which kind of fall flat. The humor of having an unvoiced protagonist has pretty much run its course this time, and the game relies on the joke too much during cutscenes. And, unlike Stick of Truth, the writers didn’t spend nearly as much time breaking the fourth wall. What do I mean? In the Coon Lair, when you’re first being assigned a back story, Cartman tells you to go to your mirror. If you hang out in your room, play piano, go to your closet, basically do anything but go to your mirror, Cartman starts to give you shit about it. But that ends there. They don’t carry it through each time you get assigned a new class. It’s like someone blurted it out during a meeting, thought it was funny so they programmed it into one scene, and left it at that.
But I can let a lot of that slide. FBW had big shoes to fill in the first place. I really don’t think anything they could’ve done could’ve beaten the giant nazi zombie fetus from the first game, or the alien probe sequence, or the first time you go into 8-bit Canada. FBW feels a little more…grownup.
And then there’s the 87,000 pound gorilla in the room that everyone seems to have forgotten about: the fact that the game was delayed for over a year. Remember, it was supposed to be released this time last year, got pushed back to Christmas, then delayed indefinitely until they finally announced an October release date. If they wanted to use another year to work on the game, add features, and work out some bugs, I would’ve been totally fine with it once the game was finally released. But something tells me that they just sat on a finished game for a year and didn’t improve upon it at all.
I say this, sure, but I still bought it. For its few faults, it’s still a South Park game. All the humor is there, from Stan’s dad asking you to find the guy that keeps keying his wife’s car to the ‘city ninja service’, and it plays like a well oiled machine. We had to wait a long time for this game, but the wait was definitely worth it.
Reed’s Review Corner
South Park: The Fracture But Whole
9.3 time altering farts out of 10
Updated combat system is very fluid, albeit monotonous.
Story and jokes are hilarious.
Attention to detail by the developer is noticed and appreciated.
Some humor falls flat.
Map and play area are sometimes small and restricting.